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Labour

Arrest me if you can, Wabba dares el-Rufai

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 FG wades into NLC/Kaduna face-off
• Governor sacks Kaduna University lecturers, nurses
• TUC, NUPENG put members on red alert for a national shutdown
• Electricity workers consider shutting power installation nationwide
• APC governors, Shehu Sani, SERAP, others urge el-Rufai to resolve the dispute
The Federal Government, yesterday, sued for peace in the industrial dispute and picketing in Kaduna State by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), which has crippled economic activities in Kaduna. The government appealed to the parties to return to dialogue to end the industrial dispute.

Labour’s five-day warning strike to protest the sack of workers by Governor Nasir el-Rufai entered its second day yesterday with no end in sight.

Labour and Employment Minister, Dr. Chris Ngige, appealed to El-Rufai, NLC President Ayuba Wabba, as well as President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Quadri Olaleye, to immediately cease-fire.

The minister in a statement issued by the Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations in the ministry, Charles Akpan, said: “We are not unaware of what is going on in Kaduna. It is a labour issue, which has snowballed into a national strike. We hope and pray the state governor not escalate matters to such a level where it becomes uncontrollable. We also appeal to the leaders of the labour unions to step down the action to make way for discussion.”

The minister also appealed to all workers on essential duties, including doctors and nurses, not to join the strike.

EL-RUFAI yesterday fired Kaduna State University’s lecturers who joined the strike. A statement by his spokesman, Muyiwa Adekeye, said any academic staff of KASU that does not report for work will be dismissed.

It ordered the management to submit a copy of the attendance register for all categories of staff daily to the Secretary to the State Government and the Commissioner of Education. Also, all Ministries, Department and Agencies must tender daily copies of the attendance register to the Head of Service.

The El-Rufai administration vowed to reform and right-size the public service to meet the needs and resources of the state even if the strike continues indefinitely.

Organised labour, yesterday, dared the governor despite threats made to the NLC President and other members of the union. The labour leader also dared el-Rufai to come and arrest him after he was declared wanted by the governor.

“It is not about me. We are here and waiting for them,” the NLC President said in a telephone chat moments after el-Rufai declared him wanted for economic sabotage.

El-Rufai, in a tweet on Tuesday, said: “Ayuba Wabba & others of @NLCHeadquarters declared wanted for economic sabotage and attacks on public infrastructure under Miscellaneous Offences Act. Anyone that knows where he is hiding should send a message to @MOJKaduna. KDSG. There will be a handsome reward!”

In another tweet, he said: “The reform of the size, cost and quality of over-bloated, inefficient and barely educated public service is at stake here. We will neither retreat nor concede to any thoughtless and corrupt political hacks ever!”

THE Nigeria Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) might shut down all power installations nationwide tomorrow (Thursday) night over the industrial crisis rocking Kaduna. General Secretary of NUEE, Joe Ajaero, said though there has been no electricity in Kaduna since Sunday, the blackout is likely going to be extended to the whole country if the governor insists on the planned mass sack of workers in the state.

This follows the directive of the NLC, which said the warning strike will be extended to the whole country if the governor does not halt the mass sack by the end of this Friday. Ajaero insisted that the organised labour would perform its function of protecting the interests of the working people.

MEANWHILE, the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) has called on the Federal Government to immediately call el-Rufai to order before his arrogance and power-drunk ego push the situation into the calamitous end as he has been doing in all issues relating to human life and wellbeing.

NUPENG warned that if any harm is inflicted on any of the members of organised labour, the leadership of the union would not hesitate to call on its members across the nation for a total shutdown of services in the upstream, midstream and downstream sectors of the oil and gas industry.

A lawyer on labour matters, Paul Omoijiade, said the governor was displaying his limitations. He said the issue of industrial conflict was not within the ambit of the police but should be handled within the trade dispute Act.

“If the NLC president is arrested, it can result to the industrial crisis. The unions are enough to bring the state to a halt. El-Rufai needs to bring his thinking cap and go to the negotiation table,” he said.

Also, the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) has advised the Kaduna governor to resolve the dispute with labour leaders amicably. Chairman of the Forum, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, said: “Noting all the challenges facing all our states, especially given dwindling revenue, we appeal to all patriotic Nigerians, including the NLC, to demonstrate more commitment toward engaging governments at all levels to address problems.”

“This is not the time for muscle-flexing. Nigerians are already overstretched with many challenges. At this critical point of our democratic journey, there cannot be limits to engagement between all governments and citizens. We appeal to both the State Government and NLC to return to the negotiating table.”

A staunch critic of the governor, Senator Shehu Sani yesterday lamented the use of armed thugs to disrupt workers peaceful protest in Kaduna, saying the action stands unreservedly condemnable. He recalled that the ruling party had enjoyed the freedom and rights to protest when they were in opposition, advising the All Progressives Congress (APC) to be tolerant of dissent and criticism.

Likewise, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has urged the Kaduna governor, to immediately end the growing crackdown on workers and protesters in his state.

In a statement signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said El-Rufai and Kaduna authorities must end the harassment and intimidation of NLC leaders and withdraw the illegal statement declaring Wabba and other NLC leaders ‘wanted’.

(The Guardian)

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Labour

El-Rufai talks tough, blasts FG, gives condition for negotiation with NLC

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Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State has vowed that his administration would not honour a meeting with the Nigeria Labour Congress unless electricity is restored in his state.

The governor also lambasted the federal government for allowing workers of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) owned by it to disrupt electricity supply to his state.

Mr El-Rufai made the comment after the NLC announced a suspension of a five-day warning strike called to protest the Kaduna government’s plans to lay off some of its civil servants due to what it blamed on a severe fiscal crisis.

The NLC suspended the industrial action after the intervention of the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige, who requested parties to sheathe swords for a federal government-mediated negotiation to hold in Abuja.

But shortly after the NLC announced it was suspending the strike to enable it to honour the planned Abuja meeting, a defiant Mr El-Rufai issued a statement that said no official of his government would negotiate with the unions unless electricity is restored in the state.

The National Union of Electricity Employees is an affiliate of the NLC and its members had on Sunday switched off electricity supply in the state and joined the strike.

In his statement early Thursday morning, Mr El-Rufai said, “No official of Kaduna State will go to Abuja for any meeting with FGN (Federal Government of Nigeria) or NLC when the citizens of the State have no electricity.”

“We hold the FGN responsible for (its) inability to assert its ownership rights over TCN (Transmission Company of Nigeria). No electricity, no meeting.”

Hours before his latest update, the state government had said it was yet to see evidence “that the NLC is backing off from its campaign of economic and social sabotage against the people of the State.”

“Electric power is yet to be restored after it was shut down at dawn on Sunday, 16th May 2021, in brazen violation of the laws protecting essential services and infrastructure,” Muyiwa Adekeye, the spokesperson to Mr El-Rufai, had said in a statement sent to the media on Wednesday.

“That action removed any basis for state government officials to meet the NLC last Sunday. Denying our people electricity about 18 hours to the advertised commencement of their organised sabotage was akin to putting a gun on the government’s head. Government has a lawful duty not to indulge blackmail.

“Restoring electricity is vital to relieving some of the pain that needless acts of lawlessness have inflicted on our people.

TEXEM

“The unimpeded provision of essential services is vital to civilised order. Those who have disrupted it should promptly reverse themselves, not expect that it will be a matter for negotiation, much less being viewed as a precondition.

“KDSG will not participate in such a negotiation or countenance one whilst our people are still being denied their right to electricity.”

Governor Nasir El-Rufai latest update on Kaduna-NLC faceoff
Governor Nasir El-Rufai latest update on Kaduna-NLC faceoff

Mr Ngige had on Wednesday afternoon announced that he had apprehended the strike and invited parties to an emergency conciliation meeting at his office in the nation’s capital by 11 am on Thursday.

The minister further directed the two parties to maintain the status quo ante bellum pending the resolution of the issues in contention.

The letter Mr Ngige separately addressed to both Governor El-Rufai and the president of the NLC reads in part:

“ Sequel to the strike prompted by the Nigeria Labour Congress(NLC)  one of the federations of Trade Unions in Nigeria, and the subsequent withdrawal of work and services in almost all public sector establishments and institutions in Kaduna State, including but not limited to the essential services in electricity, water and health, which has consequently resulted and inflicted huge damage and loss to the economy and well-being and even loss of lives to the people of Kaduna State in the last three days.

“ I am therefore constrained in the exercise of my powers as the Minister of Labour and Employment, under the Trade Disputes Act, CAP. T8, Laws of  Federation of Nigeria (LFN) 2004; to invite you and your top officials  to the emergency trade dispute  conciliation meeting.”

The letter said “between the transition period for the meeting, you are please requested to maintain the status quo ante bellum before this dispute so that the enabling climate for the resolution of the issues in dispute will not be hindered by the creation of new issues.”

Under the Trade Disputes Act, which is the principal law dealing with the settlement of industrial disputes in Nigeria, the Minister of Labour has powers to intervene in a trade dispute for the purpose of settling it.

(Premium Times)

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Labour

Adopt Roadmaps for career success, Tarfa Advises Civil Servants

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Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Yerima Peter Tarfa, has advised civil servants to always adopt a roadmap to guide them in effectively discharging their duties and achieving organisational goals.

He gave the charge as he flagged off one-day induction training for new officers in the Skills Development and Certification Department of the Ministry, in Abuja.

The roadmap, he said, include equipping themselves for their responsibilities through acquiring the necessary skills and competences, as well as applying diligence, focus, creativity, innovation to their tasks, among others.

The Permanent Secretary further advised civil servants to always have set goals and work towards achieving them, and not idle their time away, in order to achieve career objectives and organisational mandate.

Tarfa said the training would serve to integrate the new employees into the Ministry, helping them understand its systems and procedures.

He added that the training would also be all encompassing to enable the officers operate effectively in all areas of the Ministry’s mandate.

Tarfa charged the officers to always apply conscientiousness and determination in tackling every given task, and work diligently for the success of the ministry, and by extension helping the Federal Government achieve its goal in the Labour sector.

Earlier, Director, Skills Development and Certification, Barrister Amos Johnson, said the training would help the officers appreciate their relative importance to the socio-economic development of the nation.

He stated that the training would equip the officers with the necessary skills needed to discharge their duty of conducting skills development and training exercises for the unemployed masses.

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Ebonyi group condemns Umahi for proscribing affiliate unions in EBSU

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…Warns against coarcing lawmakers to join APC

The Association of Ebonyi State Indigenes in the Diaspora (AESID) has expressed displeasure over the decision of Governor Dave Umahi-led administration to proscribe the affiliate unions in the Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki.

The unions recently proscribed include the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) and other affiliate unions excepting only the Students Union Government.

Reacting to the recent happenings in the state, AESID in a statement signed and made available to newsmen Tuesday in Abuja by its President Ambassador Paschal Oluchukwu, also raised an alarm over what it called widespread insecurity that has befallen the state.

The statement also warned governor Umahi not to force any state lawmaker to join him in alleged plan to defect to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

According to Oluchukwu, By bumping the heads of the various affiliate unions and pitching the students against their tutors, Governor Umahi has played the worst divisive politics in the history of the institution which would haunt him forever and continue to decimate the legacies left by his predecessors in the once-revered institution that has produced very outstanding scholars and professionals in various fields including Law and Medicine.

“AESID condemns in its entirety, the actions and threats meted out to the Lecturers of Ebonyi State University by the Umahi-led administration and cautions that the government should stop forthwith and take their welfares most seriously especially considering the fact that illiteracy level is still very high in Ebonyi which is yet captured as an Educationally- Less-Developed State, ELDS.

“We commend and stand with the description of the Governor’s action by the ASUU National Chairman, Prof. Ogunyemi as ‘an aberration’ because even past military dictators never denied ASUU its right to freedom of association and consequent agitations for better welfares for its members.

“Our platform hereby issues a 48 hour ultimatum to Governor Umahi to consider genuinely going back to the round-table to renegotiate with the affiliate unions to broker peace with them and restore the good industrial harmony and peaceful co-existence between Staff and students of the institution. He shouldn’t play further petty-politics with the lives and welfare of our only State-owned tertiary University.”

On the allege plan to join the APC as reported, the association said: “while acknowledging his rights to freedom of association as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution, we wish to sue for peace in our dear Sstate. Therefore, we request him not to coerce, intimidate or pressure politicians and stakeholders in his Party- the People’s Democratic Party, PDP to join in his APC defection plans because our dear Ebonyi State remains a traditional PDP State for now and any attempt to muscle people into where they feel they do not properly fit into just to help one man out of hundreds of thousands of Party faithfuls fulfil his lust for political power could spell serious doom for the peace and unity of our dear state.”

Reacting to the level of insecurity in Ebonyi state, the statement expressed surprise that a group of youths under the aegis of Akubaraoha Youths Aassembly (AYA) could be ‘empowered’ with cutlasses to tackle the widespread insecurity aftermath of the protracted #ENDSARS protests.

“In videos and pictures that virally circulated on the Social media last week, the political thugs and touts many of who are suspected to be cultists were seen at the Abakaliki township stadium, brandishing very sharp machetes given to them to fight hoodlums who invaded the state the same week.

“We at AESID totally frowns at this archaic approach and order for untrained Neighbourhood Watch members to unleash mayhem on hoodlums especially when we take a deep reflection on the many nefarious activities and attacks which the government-sponsored platform has unleashed on suspected oppositions in Ebonyi state.

“We ask the mainstream Nigerian Police, NSCDC, DSS and other federally-recognized security agencies to rather intervene in restoring peace, law and order in our dear State rather than resort to the use of untrained thugs to attempt to checkmate hoodlums.

“AESID however condemns the attacks and razing of police stations and other public infrastructures by the said hoodlums and also sympathize with Ebonyians all over Nigeria for whatever they suffered and went through in the course of the protests against Police brutality.”

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